NGT48 Idols Maho Yamaguchi, Rena Hasegawa, Riko Sugahara to Graduate From Group
posted on by Crystalyn Hodgkins
After the final performance by the NGT48 idol group's "Team NIII" and "Team G" sub-units on Sunday, Team G vice captain Maho Yamaguchi announced that she would graduate from the group. The performance was the first time in 101 days that Yamaguchi performed with the group, since her comments in January on her alleged assault in December.
Yamaguchi announced her graduation in a pre-prepared letter, stating "the only thing I can do for NGT48 now is to graduate." She also stated she was glad she became a member of NGT48.
Riko Sugahara and Rena Hasegawa, both also members of Team G, also announced they will graduate from the group. All three will officially graduate on May 18. NGT48 Team NIII member (and current AKB48 member) Yuki Kashiwagi additionally announced on Saturday that she will leave NGT48, although she will stay in AKB48. Kashiwagi had previously held positions in both AKB48 and NMB48, but left NMB48 in March 2015 and announced at the same time she would join NGT48.
The NGT48 idol group announced on April 11 that the group's current two teams would be "dissolved" after the final performances on Sunday, and is "restarting" as first-generation members and new members in training (also known as "research students" in AKB48 and its sister groups like NGT48). The remaining members of the teams who are not graduating will, regardless of what generation they are from, become either new "first-generation" members or new members in training.
The dissolution of the NGT48 group's current teams is the latest in a series of shakeups for the idol group that began with the alleged assault incident. The fallout led to the replacement of NGT48 director Etsuro Imamura with the new theater manager Maiko Hayakawa and new assistant theater manager Tsuyoshi Okada.
The alleged assault occurred in December; two suspects allegedly confronted Yamaguchi outside her own home in Niigata and grabbed her face as she was entering her home. According to the police, both suspects were 25-year-old unemployed university students. The police said that the suspects "only wanted to talk to Yamaguchi, and didn't think it would be a big deal." The suspects denied the assault and were subsequently released without charges.
Yamaguchi began speaking about the incident on social media about a month later. Yamaguchi said that she initially kept silent about the incident so as not to cause trouble, but eventually spoke out because, as she said, "it's been so hard on me I don't want the same thing to happen to the other girls [of NGT48]." Yamaguchi also reportedly spoke out on Twitter against Imamura for keeping the issue silent, and against a fellow NGT48 member for giving up her home address, although ANN was not able to verify if Yamaguchi posted and then removed these tweets.
At a performance on January 10, Yamaguchi apologized for "causing trouble," apparently because of these statements.
AKS posted a statement in January, saying that Imamura had been working with the police to investigate the issue, and that another member of NGT48 had given up the time in which Yamaguchi returns home to a man who accosted her on the street.
However, in another later statement, the company announced that it had not found any evidence of "unlawful action" by NGT48 members, but it would still tap lawyers and experts to form a third-party committee to investigate if any members had performed "inappropriate conduct." The company announced Imamura's resignation in the same statement.
AKS announced the resignation of AKB48 theater manager Takahiro Hosoi in March, and also canceled its contract with Imamura, both as a result of alleged "inappropriate conduct." Oricon News had reported that day that Hosoi and former AKB48 theater manager Tomonobu Togasaki had shared a photograph of them drinking with Imamura on Twitter, and Togasaki posted (and later deleted) the comment, "I've heard about the whole thing. Everyone, don't be fooled by the worthless reports."
NGT48 is a sister group of the AKB48 idol group based in Niigata prefecture, and it launched in 2015.